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Los Angeles Travel Guide


  Los Angeles , California

The City of Los Angeles, widely known by its abbreviation L.A., is a large coastal metropolis in Southern California in the western United States. It was incorporated as a city in California on April 4, 1850. The city is the county seat of Los Angeles County. Los Angeles is the largest city in California, and the second most populous city in the United States (after New York City), with a population of 3,694,820 as of the 2000 census. A July 1, 2004, Census estimate shows the city's population at 3,847,400.

The economy of Los Angeles is driven by agriculture, petroleum, motion pictures, aerospace, international trade, and tourism. It is the largest entry point for immigrants to the United States and is now the most ethnically diverse city in the world, with populations from every nation. It is considered a major world city, having hosted two Olympic Games, and home to renowned scientific and cultural institutions. It is a major center for producing entertainment, including motion picture, TV, and recorded music. Thus, due to the large population and economy of, Los Angeles is considered an Alpha World City.

The City of Los Angeles is governed by a mayor and a 15-member council. The Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Unified School District are among the largest such organizations in the country. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power provides services to city residents and businesses.

The Los Angeles metropolitan area (frequently termed the "Southland") consists of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties, and is home to more than sixteen million people of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds. The Greater Los Angeles area is often referred to as Southern California, but geographically that term more properly includes both the Los Angeles metroplex and Imperial, Kern, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

See also:

History - (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

Los Angeles coastal area was occupied by the Tongva, Chumash, and even older people for thousands of years. The Spanish people first arrived in 1542 with the visit by Juan Cabrillo. In 1769 they returned to California to stay. In 1771, the San Gabriel mission was founded establishing a Spanish presence for the area. On September 4, 1781 settlers from the San Gabriel Mission founded the town and named it El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciuncula, "The Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of the Small Portion". It remained a small mission and ranch town for decades. Mexican independence from Spain was achieved in the 1820's, but the greatest change took place in present day Montebello after the Battle of Rio San Gabriel in 1847 which decided the fate of Los Angeles. Yankees gained control, especially after the Gold Rush and the admission of California to the United States. Los Angeles was incorporated as a city in 1851.

The rail connection with the outside world arrived when the Southern Pacific completed its line to Los Angeles in 1876. Oil was discovered in 1892 and by 1923 Los Angeles was supplying one-quarter of the world's petroleum. Even more important to the city's growth was water. In 1913 William Mulholland completed the aqueduct that assured the city's growth and led to the annexation by the City of Los Angeles of dozens of neighboring cities without water supplies of their own.

In the 1920s the motion picture and aviation industries both flocked to Los Angeles and helped to develop it further. It was the proud host of the 1932 Summer Olympics. World War II brought new growth and prosperity to the city, though many of its residents were transported to internment camps. The post-war years saw even an greater boom as urban sprawl spread over the San Fernando Valley. The Watts riots in 1965 reminded the country of the deep divisions that even the nation's youngest city faced. The XXIII Olympiad was successfully hosted in Los Angeles in 1984. The city was tested by the 1992 civil unrest and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. A city-wide vote on San Fernando Valley secession was defeated in 2002.


Culture (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

Los Angeles is famous as the world capital of motion picture production. It also has important music, art, and architecture scenes.

Despite its young age, Los Angeles has earned fame and inspired critics. A frequent stereotype is that Los Angeles is a cultureless wasteland. For more criticism, see Arts and culture of Los Angeles: Criticism.


Sports
(Los Angeles Travel Guide)

Los Angeles is the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers men's basketball teams, the Los Angeles Sparks women's basketball team, the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team, and the Los Angeles Avengers arena football team.

Anaheim, about 25 miles to the south-east, is home to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim hockey team and the Anaheim Angels baseball team. At various times in history, however, the Angels have been known as the Los Angeles Angels and California Angels; talks in 2004 suggest the team is considering returning to the former name, over loud protests from the Anaheim government.

The city is credited with being the birthplace of skateboarding and is well known for its surfing culture.

Los Angeles has twice played host to the summer Olympic Games: in 1932 and in 1984.

Los Angeles is perhaps the most mountainous metropolis in the world, with four mountain ranges partly inside city boundaries. Thousands of miles of trails crisscross the city and neighboring areas, providing exercise and wilderness access on foot, bike, or horse. Across the county a great variety of outdoor activities are available, such as skiing, rock climbing, gold panning, hang gliding, and windsurfing. Numerous outdoor clubs serve these sports, including the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, which annually leads over 4,000 outings in the area.


Flora (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

Los Angeles is remarkably rich in native plant species. With its beaches, dunes, wetlands, hills, mountains, and rivers, the area contains a number of important biological communities. The largest area is coastal sage scrub, which covers the hillsides in combustible chaparral. Native plants include: California poppy, matilija poppy, toyon, coast live oak, giant wild rye grass, and hundreds of others. Unfortunately, many native species are so rare as to be endangered, such as the Los Angeles sunflower.

There are many exotic flowers and flowering trees that are blooming year-round, with subtle colors, including the jacaranda, hibiscus, phlox, bougainvillea, coral tree blossoms and bird of paradise. If there were no city here, flower-growing could still flourish as an industry, as it does in Lompoc. Wisteria has been known to grow to house-lot-size, and in Descanso Gardens, there are forests of camellia trees. Orchids take special attention in this Mediterranean climate.

Media (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

Los Angeles is served by the Los Angeles Times and La Opinión (the city's major Spanish-language paper.), as well as smaller regional newspapers, alternative weeklies and magazine, including the Los Angeles Newspaper Group's Daily News (which focuses coverage on the Valley), Village Voice Media's L.A. Weekly, L.A. City Beat, Los Angeles magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Los Angeles Daily Journal (legal industry paper), Variety, (show-biz industry paper), and Los Angeles Downtown News. In addition to the English and Spanish language papers, numerous local periodicals serve immigrant communities in their native languages.

Most of the above papers are center-left or left in their political stance with the clear exception of the Daily News, which is center-right. One example of this is that the L.A. Times often does high-quality investigative journalism on important inner-city issues like healthcare and crime, while the L.A. Daily News is usually content to run wire stories on those issues, if it covers them at all.

Many cities adjacent to Los Angeles also have their own daily newspapers whose coverage and availability overlaps into certain Los Angeles neighborhoods. Examples include the Daily Breeze (serving the South Bay), and the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Religion (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

Los Angeles is home to adherents of many religions. The cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (at the north end of downtown) was completed in 2002. A major temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is situated in West Los Angeles.

Los Angeles' large multi-ethnic population has fostered some of the less common religions of North America . Immigrants from Asia, for example, have formed a number of significant Buddhist congregations.

Los Angeles is also home to a number of Neopagans and other mystical religions.

The city has also been home to some very colorful religious leaders and icons. In the 1920s, Aimee Semple McPherson established a thriving evangelic ministry, open to both black and white congregants. The Church of Scientology today has a major presence in the city.

Education (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

The primary school district that serves Los Angeles is the Los Angeles Unified School District.

After Proposition 13 in 1978, urban school districts had considerable trouble with funding and LAUSD became known for its underfunded, overcrowded and poorly maintained campuses. Wealthy and upper-middle-class parents placed their children in elite private schools like Harvard-Westlake, while middle-class families fled into suburban school districts beyond LAUSD boundaries.

Since then, the LAUSD has embarked on an aggressive school construction program to relieve overcrowding, and has developed high-quality magnet schools to nurture talented students and encourage them to remain within the public school system.

Colleges and universities (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • University of Southern California (USC)
  • California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA)
  • California State University, Northridge (CSUN)
  • Loyola Marymount University (LMU)
  • Los Angeles City College (LACC)
  • Occidental College (Oxy)
  • Southwestern University School of Law
  • Pepperdine University School of Law

Law and government (Los Angeles Travel Guide)


Los Angeles city hallThe Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) polices the city of Los Angeles. (The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department polices all areas of L.A. county that do not have independent city police departments.)

The city has a mayor-council system. The current mayor is James Hahn. There are 15 city council districts. Other elected city officials are the city attorney and the city controller. The city attorney prosecutes misdemeanors within the city limits. The district attorney, elected by the county voters, prosecutes misdemeanors in unincorporated areas and in 78 of the 88 cities in the county, as well as felonies everywhere in the county.

The city government has had a reputation at times for corruption and incompetence in the delivery of services, which ultimately led to an unsuccessful secession movement by the San Fernando Valley in 2002. The main problem seems to be that the city administration in Downtown gives more priority to high-density neighborhoods like Mid-City and Downtown at the expense of its far-flung suburban neighborhoods.

To make the government more responsive and to help encourage the cohesiveness of neighborhood communities, the city council has promoted the formation of neighborhood councils. These advisory councils were first proposed by city council member Joel Wachs in 1996 and were incorporated in the Charter Reform of 1999. The councils cover districts which are not necessarily identical to the traditional neighborhoods of Los Angeles, the borders of which often reflect those of cities that were annexed to Los Angeles (see Communities, Neighborhoods, and Districts below). More than 90 neighborhood councils have been formed and all stakeholders in a district may vote for council members. Though the councils have little actual power, they are still official government bodies and so must abide by California's Brown Act that strictly governs the meetings of deliberative assemblies. These and other regulatory requirements have proven frustrating for activists unaccustomed to bureaucratic procedures. The first notable achievement of the neighborhood councils was their organized opposition in March 2004 to an 18% increase in water rates by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which led the city council to suspend the rate hike pending further study.

Los Angeles has 20 Sister Cities, more than any other municipality in California. Notable sister cities include Athens, Jakarta, Berlin, Mumbai, Vancouver, Mexico City and St. Petersburg.


Geography (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

Los Angeles' large urban sprawl: About 16 million people live in the imaged area.

The city is situated in a semitropical Mediterranean climate zone.

L.A. has a total area of 472.08 square miles. The extreme north-south distance is 44 miles, the extreme east-west distance is 29 miles, and the length of the city boundary is 342 miles.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1,290.6 km² (498.3 mi²). 1,214.9 km² (469.1 mi²) of it is land and 75.7 km² (29.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 5.86% water.

The highest point in Los Angeles is Sister Elsie Peak, 5,080 feet at the far reaches of the northeastern San Fernando Valley, part of Mt. Lukens. The city is mostly at sea level elevation or a few feet above.

The major waterway of Los Angeles is the Los Angeles River, and water rights and battles have been a major part of the city's history.


Seismic Activity (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

Like most areas of California, Los Angeles' history is punctuated with major earthquakes, most recently the 1994 Northridge earthquake, centered in the northern San Fernando Valley. Coming less than two years after the civil unrest, the Northridge earthquake resulted in an additional shock to Southern Californians, in addition to billions of dollars in damage. Other major earthquakes include the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake and the 1971 Sylmar earthquake.

Urban Layout (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

From a height, a flat area completely filled with houses, buildings, roads, and freewaysGreater Los Angeles (also referred to locally as "Southern California" or "The Southland") is such a sprawling area that residents refer to broad general sub-regions. It is not always meaningful to refer to Los Angeles as a distinct city, but people outside of Southern California commonly refer to the entire region as "L.A.," even though there are five counties, more than 100 distinct municipalities, hundreds of neighborhoods and districts, and more people than any individual state except for Texas, New York, Florida, and, of course, California.

Some areas are bounded by natural features such as mountains or the ocean; others are marked by city boundaries, freeways, or other constructed landmarks. For example, Downtown Los Angeles is the area of Los Angeles roughly enclosed by three freeways and one river: The Harbor Freeway to the west, the Hollywood Freeway to the north, the Los Angeles River to the east, and the Santa Monica Freeway to the south. Or, consider the San Fernando Valley: Lying north-northwest of Downtown L.A., "The Valley" is a 15 mile-wide basin ringed by mountains.

Some other areas of Los Angeles include the Westside; South L.A. (formerly known as South Central L.A.); and the San Pedro/Harbor City area. Adjoining areas that are outside the actual city boundaries of the incorporated city of Los Angeles include the South Bay, the San Gabriel Valley and the Foothills. The San Pedro/Harbor City area was annexed to the city of Los Angeles so the city could have access and control over the Port of Los Angeles and is only connected by a narrow Corridor with the rest of L.A.

The city boundaries are quite complicated. For example, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are completely surrounded by the City of Los Angeles except for a small border the two cities share. Culver City is surrounded by L.A. except where it shares a boundary with the unincorporated communities of Ladera Heights and Baldwin Hills. Both Santa Monica and Marina del Rey are surrounded except on their ocean side. San Fernando in the northern corner of the San Fernando Valley is also a separate city entirely surrounded by L.A. territory. There are also unincorporated enclaves which are under Los Angeles County jurisdiction.


Communities, Neighborhoods and Districts (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

Hollywood is a well-known area of Los Angeles, housing many actors and actressesThe city is divided into many neighborhoods. Most of the neighborhood names come either from farm towns that were annexed by the growing city, physical terrain features, major streets, or subdivision names coined by enterprising developers. These divisions have no legal status but are of significance to residents for cultural and financial reasons. Signs have been placed on major thoroughfares designating some of the communities, a practice going back decades. (The "neighborhood councils" of Los Angeles began in 1999 and often follow different borders).

Depending on the context, West Los Angeles can refer to either a specific neighborhood or the entire Westside.

These are districts and neighborhoods within the city proper: Arleta, Arroyo Seco, Atwater Village, Baldwin Hills, Bel-Air, Beverlywood, Boyle Heights, Brentwood, Canoga Park, Carthay Circle, Century City, Chatsworth, Cheviot Hills, Chinatown, Country Club Park, Crenshaw, Downtown Los Angeles, Eagle Rock, Echo Park, El Sereno, Elysian Valley, Encino, Fairfax District, Glassell Park, Granada Hills, Hancock Park, Highland Park, Hollywood, Holmby Hills, Koreatown, Leimert Park, Lincoln Heights, Little Tokyo, Los Feliz, Mar Vista, Mission Hills, Montecito Heights, Mt. Washington, North Hills, North Hollywood, Northridge, Olive View, Pacific Palisades, Pacoima, Palms, Panorama City, Park La Brea, Pico-Union, Playa del Rey, Porter Ranch, Rancho Park, Reseda, San Pedro, Sawtelle, Sepulveda, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, South Central Los Angeles (now formally "South Los Angeles"), Studio City, Sunland, Sunset Junction, Sun Valley, Sylmar, Tarzana, Toluca Lake, Tujunga, Universal City, Van Nuys, Venice, Watts, West Adams, West Alameda, Westchester, West Hills, Westlake, West Los Angeles, Westwood, Wilmington, Winnetka, Woodland Hills


Area Codes (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

Area code 213 - Downtown L.A.
Area code 323 - Donut around downtown including greater Hollywood, East L.A., northern South-Central L.A.
Area code 310 - West L.A. and the South Bay
Area code 562 - South-West L.A. County, Whittier, Long Beach area
Area code 626 - Pasadena, San Gabriel Valley
Area code 661 - Antelope Valley including Palmdale, Lancaster; Santa Clarita
Area code 818 - The San Fernando Valley, Glendale
Area code 909 - Pomona, parts of the east County


Economy (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

The most important industries in Los Angeles are entertainment and media production, aerospace, telecommunications, law, tourism, health and medicine, manufacturing and transportation. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are vital to North American trade with the Pacific Rim countries.

Major companies headquartered in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

Fox Sports Net
TokyoPop
The American Hilton Hotel Corporation

Entertainment Companies Headquartered near Los Angeles (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

The Walt Disney Company and Warner Brothers are based in nearby Burbank, California. Sony Pictures Entertainment (parent of Columbia Pictures) is based in Culver City, California.

None of the major film companies are headquartered within the boundaries of the City of Los Angeles for a variety of reasons, such as the city's high taxes. For example, Los Angeles charges a gross receipts tax based on a percentage of business revenue, while most neighboring cities charge only small flat fees.


Transportation (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

Los Angeles is the center of the Southern California freeway system. While LA is considered to be the home of traffic jams and car culture, the LA freeway system successfully handles millions of commuters, a daily migration of 99 million collective miles. The MTA and other agencies operate bus, subway and light rail lines which together carry over a million passengers a day. Rail service is provided by Amtrak, Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe from historic Union Station. The main Los Angeles airport is LAX, although the area also includes numerous regional airports. LAX handled 55 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo in 2003. The sea ports of the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach combine to make the third largest container shipping port in the world.

Due to Los Angeles geography and massive car use, the city suffers from severe air pollution in the form of smog. The Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley hold in the fumes from automobiles, diesel trucks, shipping, and locomotive engines, as well as manufacturing and other sources. In addition the groundwater is increasingly threatened by MTBE from gas stations and perchlorate from rocket fuel. Some consider urban sprawl to be a result of the city's transportation system.

People (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

The people of Los Angeles are known as "Angelenos". L.A. can truly be described as a "world city"--it has one of the largest and most diverse populations of any municipality anywhere. The Hispanic and Asian-American populations are growing particularly quickly--the Asian-American population is the largest of any city in the U.S. Los Angeles hosts the largest populations of Armenians, Cambodians, Filipinos, Guatemalans, Koreans, Thais, Mexicans, and Salvadorans outside of their respective countries. Los Angeles is also home to the largest populations of Japanese, Iranians, and Cambodians living in the U.S. L.A. also has one of the largest Native American populations in the country.

L.A. is home to people from more than 140 countries, who speak at least 92 different languages. Ethnic enclaves like Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Persia, Thai Town and Little Ethiopia give testimony to the polyglot character of Los Angeles.


Demographics (Los Angeles Travel Guide)

LA at nightAs of the census2 of 2000, there are 3,694,820 people, 1,275,412 households, and 798,407 families residing in the city. The population density is 3,041.3/km² (7,876.8/mi²). There are 1,337,706 housing units at an average density of 1,101.1/km² (2,851.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 46.93% White, 29.75% non-Latino white, 11.24% African American, 0.80% Native American, 9.99% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 25.70% from other races, and 5.18% from two or more races. 46.53% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 1,275,412 households out of which 33.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.9% are married couples living together, 14.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 37.4% are non-families. 28.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.83 and the average family size is 3.56.

In the city the population is spread out with 26.6% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 34.1% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 99.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 97.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $36,687, and the median income for a family is $39,942. Males have a median income of $31,880 versus $30,197 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,671. 22.1% of the population and 18.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 30.3% of those under the age of 18 and 12.6% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

 


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